PewterReport.com's Eric Dellaratta takes a look at some of the more intriguing 2012 NFL Draft prospects that will be at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. and provides unit-by-unit analysis. The 2012 Senior Bowl will be held on Saturday, January 28 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. PewterReport.com will provide daily coverage and practice reports live from Mobile.
Quarterbacks are always the center of attention at the Senior Bowl, and this year’s crop should get plenty of attention from NFL scouts, coaches, and front office members. There are a number of quality signal callers attending the Senior Bowl this year.
Oklahoma State QB Brandon Weeden
The Oklahoma State passer played extremely well for the Cowboys and played a large role in their win over Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl. Weeden has all the tools to be an NFL quarterback, but his age will significantly hurt his draft stock. The senior, who played baseball for several years before resuming his football career, is 28 years old and that has turned him into a second or even third-day selection.
Arizona QB Nick Foles
The former Wildcat is a true pocket passer and has been a solid quarterback for Arizona. He can make all the throws, but some are concerned about his decision-making and his ability to read defenses. Right now, Foles is projected to be a second-round selection, but if he shows he is able to go through his progressions well and deliver accurate passes then he could receive some first-round consideration.
Sleeper: Boise State QB Kellen Moore
Moore doesn’t have great arm strength or measurables, but he is extremely accurate and is a very hard worker. He will be a guy that impresses front offices during interviews and in the classroom. He needs to show scouts and front office members that he can sling the ball down the field. A good Senior Bowl performance could go a long way for the Boise State quarterback.
Other notable quarterbacks: San Diego State’s Ryan Lindley, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson
The running backs featured in Mobile this year are very talented. The North squad features four 1,000-yard rushers in Boise State’s Doug Martin, Cincinnati’s Isaiah Pead, Washington’s Chris Polk, and Ohio State’s Daniel Herron.
Boise State RB Doug Martin
The one that stands out in this group is Martin. He is projected to be selected in the third or fourth round of the draft. If he turns in a good Senior Bowl performance, than he will probably solidify his third-round status. Martin is a multi-dimensional tailback that could benefit a lot of teams. He catches the ball well out of the backfield and is a willing, effective blocker.
Sleeper: Baylor RB Terrance Ganaway
The Baylor rusher is a bruising running back that was somewhat overshadowed by Robert Griffin and Kendall Wright. He should impress as a blocker and will surely show off his strength. Ganaway is an interesting sleeper that people should keep a close eye on this week.
Other notable running backs: Mississippi State’s Vick Ballard, Florida’s Chris Rainey
The Senior Bowl will feature some stud receivers from this extremely deep 2012 draft class. Unfortunately, there are two playmaking receivers that decided to withdrawal from the event. Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd will not participate and neither will Wisconsin’s Nick Toon. But there are plenty of quality receivers that will be performing this week.
Baylor WR Kendall Wright
Wright is a stud and should really shine this week in Mobile. He’s extremely fast and has great hands. When watching Wright’s tape, I always seem to draw a comparison to Pittsburgh’s Mike Wallace. Both have similar traits and are dynamic playmakers. Wright was Robert Griffin’s favorite target at Baylor and he should be a reliable receiver for the South’s quarterbacks. A good week for Wright could push him into the first-round.
Iowa WR Marvin Mcnutt
McNutt will also be a player to watch during senior bowl week. He is an underrated receiver who possesses deceiving speed, soft hands, and a big frame. This issue with McNutt is that he didn’t get many opportunities to make plays. If he were on a team with a more talented quarterback he could’ve been a late-first round selection. It will be interesting to see how he performs with some better quarterbacks.
Sleeper: Arizona WR Juron Criner
Arizona’s Juron Criner could really be a breakout player at the Senior Bowl. He’s a taller receiver that can go up and get the football. He showcases nice route-running ability and has soft hands. Criner was Nick Foles’ favorite target at Arizona. They already have chemistry, which could really help on some of the timing routes that they will be asked to perform. Some off-the-field concerns have pushed his stock down into the third to fourth-round range, but if he interviews well and plays at a high level this week he might be able to gain some ground.
Other notable receivers: North Carolina’s Dwight Jones, N.C. State’s T.J. Graham, Arkansas’ Joe Adams, Ohio State’s Devier Posey
The tight ends are probably the weakest position at the Senior Bowl. The top-rated tight ends of the 2012 draft class mostly consists of juniors. There will be a few players that will make an impact, but this Senior Bowl does not feature a guy like Lance Kendricks from last year.
Missouri TE Michael Egnew
Egnew will be a player that scouts are going to watch closely. He’s a tall receiving tight end that excels in route-running and making plays on the football. What he lacks is bulk and blocking ability. At Missouri, Egnew was split out wide as a receiver most of the time. He was one of Blaine Gabbert’s favorite targets in 2010. Very rarely was he seen alongside the offensive lineman. In order to boost his stock, Egnew will need to show that he is a capable blocker. Otherwise, his stock could be limited to a third-day pick.
Sleeper: Louisiana-Lafayette TE Ladarius Green
Green is an extremely similar player to Egnew. He saw a lot of time split out as a receiver in the slot and wasn’t a game-changing blocker. But what he lacked in blocking was made up for in his excellent receiving skills. Green can go up and get the football with the best. With the league featuring more receiving tight ends such as Aaron Hernandez and Jimmy Graham, more teams could be looking for big tight ends that excel at receiving. Green is flying under the radar, but a big week in Mobile could change that.
Other notable tight ends: Alabama’s Brad Smelley, Michigan State’s Brian Linthicum
The offensive line looks to be one of the more talented positions at the Senior Bowl, as there are many linemen that can have an instant impact on an NFL roster. This draft class features a plethora of talent along the offensive front, but especially at the interior line positions.
Georgia OT/OG Cordy Glenn
Glenn is a very big, physical lineman that excels at run blocking. The 6-foot-5, 350-pound lineman is extremely strong and has been a dominant force on the left side of the Bulldogs line. He isn’t very athletic as a pass-blocking left tackle, so he would need to kick inside to guard at the NFL level. It will be interesting to see how the Redskins coaching staff will use him along their offensive front. Glenn is currently slotted to be a late first-round selection.
Wisconsin OG Kevin Zeitler
Wisconsin pumps out quality offensive linemen every year. Last year, the Senior Bowl featured Gabe Carimi and John Moffitt, who both highly sought after. This time around it is offensive guard Zeitler. The Wisconsin guard was a monster in the middle for the Badgers. He continuously opened up holes for star running back Montee Ball. Zeitler is very strong and is also an impressive pass blocker. Zeitler should be a second-round pick when it’s all said and done.
Sleeper: Iowa State OT/OG Kelechi Osemele
Osemele is a player that didn’t see a lot of media coverage because of the school that he plays for. Osemele is a very big and strong lineman who looks to be capable of playing tackle or guard at the next level. At 6-foot-6, 347 pounds, the redshirt senior is a “plus” athlete with impressive footwork. I think he will excel in the 1-on-1 drills and impress scouts with his athleticism.
Other notable offensive lineman: Ohio State center Mike Brewster and tackle Mike Adams, Oklahoma State left tackle Levy Adock, Florida State tackle Zebrie Sanders
The 2012 Senior Bowl will feature some first-round talents along the defensive line. South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram, North Carolina’s Quinton Coples, and Penn State’s Devon Still should all end up being selected in the first-round of the draft. The defensive linemen look to be the deepest position as a unit.
Penn State DE/DT Devon Still
Still has one of the best first steps in football, is very strong, and has a nice repertoire of pass-rushing moves. Some have mocked Still in the top-10, but his inconsistency against the run might push him down into the twenties. If he has a good weigh-in and is able to show teams that he is capable in run defense, then he could warrant a top-15 selection.
North Carolina DE Quinton Coples
Coples is arguably the most recognizable player to accept an invite the Senior Bowl. He is ranked as the top defensive end by most draft pundits and media members. The North Carolina product is an exceptional run defender, but doesn’t possess very impressive quickness. His best fit in the NFL is probably at left end for a 4-3 team. Coples is projected to be a top-15 draft selection heading into the Senior Bowl.
Sleeper: Marshall DE Vinny Curry
Curry was a pass-rushing specialist at Marshall and NFL teams are always in need of someone who can consistently get to the quarterback. Curry has added some size during his senior season and is up to 263. That will allow him to be a 4-3 right defensive end or an outside rush linebacker in a 3-4. Curry’s versatility increases his draft value.
Other notable defensive lineman: Texas’ Kheeston Randall, Washington’s Alameda Ta’amu, South Carolina’s Melvin Ingram
The group of linebackers that will be participating in the Senior Bowl is quite robust. Everyone attending offers something different. There are big hitters in Florida State’s Nigel Bradham, speedy linebackers in Nebraska’s Lavonte David and North Carolina’s Zach Brown, and stars like Courtney Upshaw. All of this is in addition to some quality, lesser-known prospects like Bobby Wagner of Utah State and N.C. State’s Audie Cole.
Nebraska OLB Lavonte David
The Nebraska senior was a monster for the Cornhuskers. He made big play after big play and would fit very well as a Will linebacker in a 4-3 scheme. David lacks size, but he makes up for that with his “plus” speed and tackling. He’s great in pass coverage and is always near the football. If he weighs in under his listed weight, his stock could take a major hit.
North Carolina OLB Zach Brown
Brown is an insanely fast outside linebacker that should perform extremely well at the combine in February. But first, Brown must show that he is capable of playing with the best seniors in the country. The Tar Heel senior is a great blitzer that has a nose for the football. He excels in pass coverage but isn’t a great run defender. His size and speed combination will put him in first-round conversation.
Sleeper: Nevada LB James-Michael Johnson
Johnson is an underrated middle linebacker that excels in run defense. He is a solid tackler that showcases some nice, short-area quickness. The Nevada linebacker was one of the best defensive players in the WAC conference last season. He could be a guy that leaves a very good impression on NFL teams.
Other notable linebackers: Alabama’s Courtney Upshaw, Texas’ Keenan Robinson, California’s Mychal Kendricks, Florida State’s Nigel Bradham
The defensive backs participating in Mobile this week are very solid and will feature some top-tier talents. Alabama safety Mark Barron, who is fresh off of his National Championship victory, could be a first-round selection come April. But there are other defensive backs that will be fighting to move their draft stock into the middle of the first round.
Nebraska CB Alfonzo Dennard
The Cornhusker is a physical cornerback that plays with raw emotion. He does a good job of jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage and consistently can reroute opponents. The area where he does not shine is speed. Dennard doesn’t have great straight-line speed, which will impact his stock greatly. He will have to go up against some talented receivers in 1-on-1 situations. This is something PewterReport.com and other scouts will be watching very closely.
North Alabama CB Janoris Jenkins
Jenkins has had a rollercoaster of a collegiate career. He was dismissed from the Florida Gators after being arrested for marijuana charges. He contemplated entering the supplemental draft but opted to attend North Alabama instead. Jenkins is a true cover corner that excelled against top SEC receivers during his time at Florida. He has elite closing speed and has great footwork. This is a great opportunity to show NFL teams that he is still the same Jenkins that played for the Gators, and that he can stay out of trouble.
Vanderbilt CB Casey Hayward
The Commodore senior was a ballhawk for the Vanderbilt defense, as he totaled seven interceptions and defended 17 passes. He is a natural zone corner that didn’t play much press coverage in Vanderbilt’s defense. An area that he needs to improve in is tackling. Hayward always would take good angles to the football, but he failed to be a consistent tackler for the Commodores. Scouts will be keeping a close eye on Hayward to see how he fares in run defense and in press coverage situations.
Sleeper: South Carolina Safety Antonio Allen
The South Carolina standout is an excellent run defender that possesses great instincts and tackling skills. Allen is an in-the-box safety that South Carolina used in a similar manner to the way that the Pittsburgh Steelers use Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu. He takes good angles to the football and routinely made splash plays for the Gamecocks. If he can show NFL teams that he is reliable in pass coverage, Allen could raise his stock more than anyone else at the Senior Bowl.
Other notable defensive backs: Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin, Alabama safety Mark Barron, Oklahoma State safety Markelle Martin, Boise State cornerback/safety George Iloka